Mens Team

Elano: Just like watching Brazil

The gifted Brazilian's first City interview...

Elano arrived at City as one of the first signings since Thaksin Shinawatra’s takeover which pumped much-needed funds into City bank account

With Sven-Goran Eriksson installed as the new boss, suddenly the Club had a fresh injection of optimism. Elano was a gifted player and at last, the supporters had someone to idolise again…

That boy Elano – what can you say about a player with the kind of talent he is blessed with?

Not much except ‘thanks’ to the people who brought him here, and we all know who they are. People often ask what players are really like away from the pitch and out of the public eye and the answer is, well, they are mostly just like everybody else. In Elano’s case, it’s unlikely you could meet a more humble and friendly character – always smiling, courteous and generous.

It’s always a pleasure to be in his company and let’s hope he’s a City player for many years to come. Launching the new Nike Brazil shirt at Pau Brasil (now Bem Brasil) – Manchester’s only Brazilian restaurant Elano attracted the attention of the ‘nationals’ – journalists from papers such as the Times and The Independent, as well as a plethora of TV stations including Sky and the BBC.

He must have conducted in the region of a dozen interviews over a four-hour period – a gruelling test of anyone’s patience, but he was still smiling by the time the tape recorders were finally turned off and the cameras replaced in their various bags and cases.

He is learning English, but for obvious reasons spoke through a Portuguese interpreter for most of the afternoon. Some of the questions he was asked left this particular writer a little bemused, but perhaps it is of interest if he plans to wear gloves (“maybe, but not if it’s raining”) or when he bought his first car (“when I was 20 – I paid for it in five instalments and it had no air conditioning – not good in Santos where the temperature is 35 degrees!”).

Surely most City fans would be more interested in how he is settling in Manchester and his thoughts of the season played so far? Well, that was my angle and the answers will make sweet music to the ears of Blues everywhere.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he began with a customary smile. “Things have gone so well for me so far. I arrived here as an unknown and I thank the supporters for the way they have treated me but it is a team effort and no more. I’m sure if we can carry on the way we are, the whole team will get the appreciation it deserves.

“I think the way we have started has surprised everybody, especially when you take into account that the club brought in so many new players and had a new manager. It is down to the competence of the manager and players that we have started so well and we are doing a very good job considering the Premier League is such a tough league.”

Elano arrived unable to speak English, though he didn’t let that stop him trying to get to know the City squad better, as he explained: “Even though I don’t speak the language very well, I tried to communicate with my team-mates when we were still getting to know each other and made jokes with everybody to keep their spirits up.

“I might not speak English yet, but I have a lot of friends now in England and I would like it to carry on that way and keep the positive atmosphere going – besides, I don’t want to upset any of them as they are all bigger and stronger than I am!

“I’m having English lessons two or three times a week. I’ve never felt alone in England because the warmth and welcome from the other players, staff and supporters has been amazing. Even in training the other players are trying to teach me how to say different things that will help. When I first arrive at training I just speak to everyone and try and make them laugh with little jokes.”

Elano also admits he thought City played in front of crowds half the size of the average at the City of Manchester Stadium! The packed stadium and happy atmosphere quickly filtered through to the players, hence the incredible start the Blues have made on their own soil.

“It was a massive surprise to me because I was told before I came here that City’s attendances averaged somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000!” laughed Elano. “Of course, it’s actually more than 40,000 each week and it’s great to have so many fans behind us every time we play at home - and away - it makes us feel good to know that many people want to support us and I hope they keep turning up in numbers for a long time.”

So how far can City go this season? Top ten? Top six? Top four…?

“We are hoping to win a trophy this season and I’m sure the supporters would be very happy with that,” he reasoned. “One of our main objectives this season is to qualify for the UEFA Cup or Champions League. We know it is very difficult to win the title because there are at least four sides with a lot of quality. If we qualify for Europe we will be very proud.”

Finally, what does Elano make of the adulation he’s received since signing for City – and bearing in mind he’s had to settle in a new country, adapt to a new style of football and learn a new language – is there more to come from the Brazilian maestro?

“It’s very difficult to talk about myself,” he says, modestly. “However, I do believe I can give even more than I have so far, but I like to do my talking on the pitch – that’s where I can show the City fans what I can do.

“They have been fantastic towards me and of course it makes me very happy, especially when they sing my name – it makes me do even better because I want to please them even more. I’ve only been in England for six months, but I am already talking about staying here for 10 years or so.”

What happened next? Sadly, Elano didn't stay 10 years - just two. He made 84 appearances for City during that time, scoring 18 goals including many wonderful strikes and penalties. He headed out to Turkey and played for Galatasaray for 18 months before returning to his first love, Santos. He later became assistant coach of the club before taking on his first management role at Internacionale in 2019.